Outta This World: Britney Spears’ Japanese Bonus Tracks Through the Years
She shouldn't have kept you waiting, but Britney Spears is coming back to Japan now.
The Undisputed Princess of Pop™ is officially kicking off her summer tour of Asia this coming weekend, beginning with two shows in Tokyo on June 3 and 4.
It's a cause for celebration: the international "Man on the Moon" icon hasn't touched down in Japan since the days of Circus back in 2008, almost a decade ago now, when she performed "Womanizer" on NTV Best Artist and happily nodded in agreement as people spoke Japanese around her during a brief interview.
And so, to honor Tokyoney's grand return, it's time to go all the way back to 1999 and work (bitch) through the years, reflecting on every single one one of Britney's Japanese bonus edition songs found on her CDs over the years. (Note: some of these were also included on other international editions, as B-sides and on compilations.)
What's a CD? Great question, millennial pink-loving teen: a CD is a primitive form of music consumption; a physical disc that stored a maximum of about 20 songs or so playable on portable devices until becoming too scratched up from overuse or after hastily tossing it onto one's car floor.
The thing about Japan is that a majority of music sales in the country are still physical sales as opposed to streaming, shockingly, which helps to explain why artists put extra effort into their international CD releases. In fact, they're even re-releasing Glory as a special 2-CD tour edition in Japan this week.
And so, from ...Baby to Glory, these are the best of bonus gifts that Britney has generously gifted her Asian fans.
Back when Britney was preparing to debut as a teen-pop hopeful, the record label was supplying the future Radio Disney Icon Award recipient with power ballads and soulful R&B-pop midtempos, a la early Mariah and Whitney, to suit her natural lower register. Soon enough, she'd develop her now-signature "Britney" bay-beh, bay-beh voice. "I'll Never Stop Loving You" might be a schmaltzy, '90s cheese-fest best suited for soundtracking a middle school dance, but it's also evidence that, once upon a time before all the breathy come-ons, Britney belted. (Add this one to your "Britney can sing" receipt collection.)
For some, "Autumn Goodbye" is as every bit as nostalgic as "...Baby One More Time," given that it served as the B-side (remember those?) to Britney's classic debut single. The thumping ode to a fleeting summer romance, recorded with Eric Foster White (of "E-Mail My Heart," among many of ...Baby gems), saw Britney settling into her saccharine-sweet sound while bittersweetly singing her goodbye, giving us ample lyrics to fill out our AIM away messages. No post-September break-up has ever sounded the same.
A Swede-pop string-and-piano sad ballad, in which baby Britney beautifully sings her sorrows away for a full two minutes and thirty seconds before revealing that the broken-hearted girl in the mirror is — spoiler alert — her. No one saw it coming, and no one would judge if you still sometimes cry to it late at night to this day.
A Deep Voiceney cover of The Jets' 1986 Top 3 hit, "You Got It All" was originally recorded during the ...Baby sessions (she even performed it in Singapore to label executives), but was strangely tacked on as an international bonus track on Oops. A "Radar" moment if you will — and another vocal receipt.
A sincere, sweetly sung ode to the muscular organ responsible for pumping blood through the Princess of Pop's iconic blood vessels, Britney's string-filled soul-soother also appeared as the B-side to "Lucky" worldwide. Her heart has been doing just fine ever since, taking trips to other peoples hearts — and is still accepting emails.
By the time Britney rolled around, the Living Legend was dabbling in more interesting electronica textures and #SomethingMoreUrban sound. The most interesting part of "When I Found You," which was included in basically every edition except the North American standard, is its sonically jarring, angsty bridge: "I felt so alone, all alone, more than you could ever know..." Over a decade later, Britney still found us on Britney Jean's EDM banger, "Now That I Found You."
Electronic pioneer BT helmed "Before the Goodbye," one of Britney's most ahead-of-her-time productions to date. Not only should it have been on the standard edition worldwide, but it almost certainly deserved the single treatment, too. The tempo-shifting track plays like three songs mashed into one, moving from Destiny's Child-like sass, to a bring-'em-to-church build, to a surging kiss-off of a chorus. All hail Experimentalney.
Like "Before the Goodbye," Britney delivered divine electro-balladry with Britney's "I Run Away," confusingly relegated to bonus track status. In what sounds like Ray of Light-era Madonna, Britney's voice goes through the ringer (as much as her poor heart) across layers and layers of production, leading to one of her most epic bridges ever: the music stops, the strings take off — and then, she takes off. Best of all is that stuttering effect on her voice at the very end, which makes her voice sound like the Price Is Right spinner.
Britney's no stranger to technology-assisted romance: years before she was pushing on all of our Bluetooth-enabled buttons on Circus's "Phonography," she was dreamily cooing away on the In The Zone bonus, "Don't Hang Up." In peak Janet Jackson mode, Britney purrs, moans and ooo-s her way through the utterly lush, not-so-innocent ode to phone sex. It is, without hyperbole, a career highlight.
"The Answer" may as well be serve as the unofficial sequel to "I'm A Slave 4 U," featuring similar melodies and vibe-y production recalling Brit's 2001 masterpiece. Co-produced by Diddy, the slinky, sweat-drenched bout of seduction popped up on every international edition of In The Zone — and it's well worth the import. (Unless you grabbed that In The Zone DVD.)
Without question, "Over to You Now" will go down as Britney's most absurd song. An ode to backdoor lovin' (more on that in a moment), the bonus track off of the accompanying EP from Brit's much-criticized UPN reality show, Britney & Kevin: Chaotic was produced by "Everytime" mastermind Guy Sigsworth, and features both Robyn (!) and Imogen Heap (!) as co-writers. (Yes, that's Immi singing in the song's opening.) The bouncy bop is brilliantly bizarre, as Britney invites her well-behaved beau to bring himself to the special place "in the basement." Queen of pushing her own sexual boundaries.
No Danja production from the Blackout sessions is a dud. "Outta This World," co-penned by Miss Keri Baby herself, Keri Hilson (we have her to thank for no less than four songs from the album), is a space-age dose of love-drunk electro-R&B greatness, perfectly suited for our "Alien" princess. A great lyric in particular: "I keep singing universes about you / There’ll always be verses about you."
J.R. Rotem, who infamously bragged about giving it to Britney "wheelbarrow style," produced this "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"-sampling uptempo party romp. It's fun, but one of the least impressive tracks to come out of an otherwise incredible era— although the speak-rapping bridge is pretty incredible. ("Let go of the way things used to be...") Also, the song was originally demoed by The Cheetah Girls for consideration by Rihanna. Legends, one and all.
In the days leading up to "Gimme More," early rumors floated 'round the Internet that Brit was filming a video for a comeback song was called "Get Back." The Danja-produced ditty isn't quite as good as Britney's iconic 2007 return-to-form, but it did deserve a slot in the standard edition of the album. From the tease of an opening ("you ready, B?") to a fierce breakdown ("watch me...you like it?"), "Get Back" plays like a chilly Blackout classic. The slowed-down outro, fit for a killer dance break finale, is an especially brilliant production touch.
Before making magic with Mother Monster, Fernando Garibay was teaming up with Brit Brit on 2008's Circus. (Gaga, then just a baby, even co-penned and sang on the album's European bonus track, "Quicksand.") "Amnesia," a ditzy, Gwen Stefani-esque bop about oh-so-conveniently forgetting about that boyfriend at home, turns an unfaithful moment into stuttering, singalong fun.
The Halloween single that never was: the spook-filled "Scary" simply begs for a video treatment one day, full of really cool and faded ghouls. The pulsating track, like Britney's very own take on Michael Jackson's "Thriller," somehow manages to make hypnotherapy, monsters and Jekyll & Hyde sound sexy. Get it together already, Veronica the Witch...
Britney's most recent gift to her Japanese fans, the DJ Mustard-helmed Glory bonus "Mood Ring," came after months of teasing by the song's producer. Co-written by Melanie Fontana and Jon Asher, "Mood Ring" was penned with Britney specifically in mind: "We love how Britney’s gone through all her phases, and hair colors, and literally, like, mood swings," Fontana told PopCrush. Like Rihanna's "Needed Me," the murky downtempo banger offers a moment of emotional vulnerability at a time when pop feels particularly heavy. The otherworldly noise and room-shaking bass makes "Mood Ring" one of the most intriguing offerings from Brit's latest LP.